So, you’ve taken the leap to set up your new business – yay! Now you need to start promoting it and getting your name out there. Time to dip your toe into networking.
How to do it
One of the best ways to promote you and your business is by networking. It can be daunting and you won’t get business overnight but it will pay off in the long term. It’s all about establishing relationships and building trust.
There are so many networking groups available to you so you need to find the group that is right for you. They can all be so different and a lot can depend on the people that attend and the format of the meeting.
Do your research
Find out about the group before you attend. What types of businesses go? What is the format of the meeting? Do you need to register? Think about what you want to get out of the group. Call the organiser of the group and find out more if need be.
Get your business cards ready
Make sure you’ve got plenty! However, if you’re still in the process of setting up your business, don’t worry – write your contact details down so you have something to give to potential clients. If you have flyers or marketing materials, take them along to showcase your business.
Take some time to write and practice your Elevator Pitch. 60 seconds can seem like a long time and it’s surprising how many seconds you have left when you’re talking so fast because you’re nervous! You need to include your name, business and an explanation of what you do. Say your name and business again at the end. You’ll soon become more confident in what you’re saying – practice makes perfect!
Don’t be nervous
Everyone remembers the first time they attended a network meeting so they know that it can be nerve wracking. Take a deep breath and smile! It will make the world of difference. You won’t be judged for being nervous. The more meetings you attend, the easier it gets.
Take an interest in other people. Ask questions and find out what they do, and then talk about your business. Don’t be one of those people that talks at people. It’s a two way street and not a sales pitch.
Pick up business cards
Make sure you collect the business card from the people you’ve spoken to and write notes on them if you need to follow up in any way.
So you’ve met and spoken to the business owners, now go and find them on social media and connect with them. Put a message to say where and when you met.
Networking takes time, but once you find the right group that works for you, it doesn’t become a chore, it becomes part of your business life.
Take a deep breath and off you go!
Learn more about Louise and her business, dotty hippo design here.